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19 October 2019
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Gheorghe Russu

Vice-director, The Center for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption

Parties-Phantoms, Parties - State Institutions, Parties - State Enterprises

Ion PREAŞCĂ

20 parties have registered in the current election campaign. Many people say it is a too big number for such a small country as Moldova. At the same time, much more parties could take part in the election campaign.

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Activists launch Moldova’s first ‘Space Camp’ © Susan Coughtrie

Whether we want it or not, we will pay Transnistria's gas debts

„Gazprom" claims from Moldova of the repayment of a debt 86% of which belongs to Transnistria
Ion PREAŞCĂ, 24 May 2010, 12:17

That's how we should interpret the results of the action brought by Gazprom to the Court of International Commercial Arbitration of the Russian Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industry against its subsidiary company from Moldova - Moldovagaz. Four decisions were made so far within the proceedings; the Court decided that Moldovagaz is able to pay 96.1 mln. USD accumulated gas debts for 2005 and for three quarters of 2006.

Recently, other two petitions were submitted by Gazprom asking for the forced recovery of other 288.16 mln. USD by Moldovagaz, gas debts accumulated in the IV quarter of 2006 and 2007.

In the report of the I quarter of 2010, Gazprom publishes the following: („On November 2009, SA „Gazprom" submitted a petition to the Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AC at the RFCCI) for the recovery from SA „Moldovagaz"(the Republic of Moldova) of the debts for supplied gas for the 4th quarter of 2006, in amount of 80 278 $ 805.72USD. The hearing in this case was scheduled by AC of the RFCCI for May 18, 2010.

In February 2010, Gazprom submitted a petition to the AC of the RFCCI to recover from SA „Moldovagaz" (the Republic of Moldova) the debts in amount of 207 883 835, 16 USD for the gas supplied in 2007. The date of the hearing has not been established yet by the AC of the RFCCI".

Overall we are talking about 384, 26 mln. USD. The fee levied for case examination by the Moscow Court makes up 524 thousand USD.

86% of the debt claimed by „Gazprom" in court belongs to Transnistria

Most of these debts belong to the Transnistrian region. According to a press release of SA "Moldovagaz", of 80, 3 mln. claimed by Gazprom in November 2009 for the IV quarter of 2006, the debt of „Moldovagaz" makes up 34,2 mln. USD, and the debt of SRL Tiraspoltransgaz (Transnistria) - 46, 1 mln. USD.

Of 207, 9 mln. USD representing the debt for 2007, 6, 3 mln. USD belong to "Moldovagaz", and 201, 6 mln. USD to „Tiraspoltransgaz". Thus, 86% of the debts claimed by „Gazprom" belong to Transnistria, and 14% - to „Moldovagaz".

The numbers coincide with the Tiraspol regional bank data, according to which in 2007, Transnistria accumulated new gas debts in amount of 201, 6 mln. USD, while Moldovagaz officials victoriously announced in 2008 that the right bank of Nistru River has no official debts for 2007.

Moreover, Alexandr Gusev, the „Moldovagaz" president, recently stated that Moldova (the right bank of Nistru River) entirely paid for the gas supplied by „Gazprom" in 2008-2009. It appears that the correct numbers were and continue being concealed.

This legal proceeding is not the first and certainly will not be the last. If these lawsuits will continue, the forced recovery of Transnistria's debts of 297 mln. USD accumulated in 2008 and of 435,8 mln. USD accumulated in 2009 may come next. Overall - about 1,12 billion USD.

The good news is we haven't paid the amounts claimed by "Gazprom" yet. Igor Dodon, the former First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Trade and current communist member of Parliament, states that during the period he has been in the Government, none of the decisions of the Arbitration Court from Moscow have been executed, thus, before 2009 nothing was paid to „Gazprom".

According to the communist MP, the lawsuits were initiated to obtain certain decisions, which would eventually protect "Gazprom" and its managers, from the prosecution of revenue and customs authorities of Russia.

The latter follow attentively if the foreign currency amounts are received on time and send „Gazprom", monthly warnings of administrative penalties for untimely foreign currency payments.

Most of these warnings are related namely to Transnistria's failure to pay for Russian natural gas. Valeri Golubev himself, deputy president of Gazprom and president of the Supervisory Board of Moldovagaz, previously stated that Russian enforcement bodies warned him about potential criminal charges that can be brought against him for allowing the accumulation of new debts for natural gas delivered to Transnistria.

However, this does not mean that Gazprom will not require, eventually, the execution of decisions adopted by the International Court of Arbitration.


"Gazprom" could seize Moldovagaz assets and could initiate Moldovagaz insolvency proceeding

In fact, from a legal point of view, by means of these decisions „Gazprom" obtains the legal confirmation of the right to ask Moldovagaz to repay all debts, accumulated both by Chisinau and Tiraspol. The legal experts in this field say that after the adoption of the enforceable decisions, if Moldovagaz refuses to pay or does not have the money to pay the debts, „Gazprom" has the right to seize the entire "Moldovagaz" property and initiate the insolvency proceeding.

At the same time, in a TV show, the Prime Minister Vlad Filat, qualified as speculative the information that through these legal proceedings Moldova will be bound to pay the amounts claimed by "Gazprom". Three weeks ago, the Prime Minister even said that the issues of gas debts accumulated by the Transnistrian region will be solved within the next two months.

Beyond all these, an eventual claim to enforce the decisions adopted in Moscow could mean the official overtaking by „Gazprom" of more than 75% of „Moldovagaz" shares. This means as well that it will overtake the Heat and power plants, and then it could ask for tariffs corresponding to the costs. Everything could end very badly for Chisinau.

Most certain, the former government is the one to blame for such an evolution of events, because it wasn't able to negotiate a clear and transparent regulation of the issue related to the debts and the payments to „Gazprom". Especially since international financial bodies asked them to do so 6-7 years ago and offered legal and technical assistance. However, the communist authoritites preferred to seek solutions based on temporary agreements with "Gazprom".

Now we might all have to pay too big a price for the policies promoted by the former governments.

 



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